On Reality – Some thoughts

On the self, The Source and what is

Going down the rabbit hole

So a recent fb thread raised the old conundrum. There ‘you’ are thinking something, then ‘you’ observe ‘yourself’ thinking this thought, then ‘you’ become aware of ‘yourself’ observing . . . (well who??? ) thinking this thought, before ‘you’ wonder who is it that is aware of your awareness of observing ‘your’ thought . . . and then to spin that on its head – in what sense is it ‘you’ thinking the thought anyway??

So we chase the rabbit down the hole, in an ‘infinite regression’ [most unhelpful – see at end of piece] to . . .?

The Source . . . where does ‘it’ all come from – where do I come from? Who am I anyway?

The Source. The singularity. the place where everywhere is Here and everywhere in Now. The Eternal . . . ‘outside of time and space’ . . . except this is another problem of our language as Modern Physics is suggesting.

Take for example quantum entanglement. So a pair of tiny wee particles, twins, are separated at birth, and sent in ‘space’ ships to the opposite sides of ‘The Universe’ (clue in the name, btw . . .) where we invade the personal space of one of them, and tweak it to make it spin. Instantaneously and in perfect accord, its twin, an unimaginable distance away spins identically. Perfect synchronisation across any distance is given our perception of time and space impossible. For the action to be synchronous, and identical, they would have to be in the same place. Where everywhere is Here . . . and Everywhen in Now . . . so they must be . . . so . . .


“Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.”


[BTW this is why evolutionary theory is now disintegrating into fractious communities, because 100+ years after the event biology is catching up with the physics . . .]


You shall love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your mind and with all your strength . . . Love the Source (in whom everywhere is Here and everywhere is Now) . . . and (then) you shall love your neighbour . . . as yourself . . .

The Old wisdom said – ‘my life is with my brother’

. . . or ‘my spin is with my twin’  – apologies for this, but it tickles me 🙂


As The Old Prayer puts it

O heavenly King, The Comforter, Spirit of Truth
Who art everywhere present and fullest all things
Treasury of blessings and giver of Life
Come and abide in us, cleansing us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One


The First Christians were so excited, because The Source had found them . . .

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

[btw – 1. we now understand that everything is made of light 2. Big Bang Cosmology is the projection of our own existence onto ‘Reality’ . Everything moving further and further away from the Singularity – the Source – We See as we are.]


On why ‘Infinite Regression’ is ‘most unhelpful’

This is the hopelessly [lit.] abstract language of mathematics. it is most unhelpful as it posits an idea that we can conceptualise ‘infinity’, something which relates in more ways than one to nothing, and that ‘regression’ is a very negatively value laden idea in Modernity, especially Anglophone Modernity, where ‘you don’t want to go back to . . .’ is the usual knee jerk reaction to any questioning of the way things are . . .and ‘are going’ (more value laden language – also ‘Progress’ which is a ‘good thing’)


On the falsity of (modern) mathematics

What is six take away seven?

‘Minus one?’

I have six apples – I take away seven apples – how many apples do I have . . .

‘errr . . .’

OK try this.

You have six apples
I take away the six apples
How many apples are there?

‘none of course’

No. there are still six apples – it is just that I have them and you do not. [See above on loving your neighbour as yourself . . .]

This is called the conservation of matter and it is the reason why there is no thing we can call nothing, or put another way ‘zero’ relates to no thing. It is abstract, unreal, yet modern mathematics don’t work without non existence, nor does modern science – which we allow to become our descriptors of reality . . . hence ‘we live in a meaningless universe . . .’ because its all based on ‘nothing’


This is why 6-6 is none sense [sic]






The struggle to believe in Jesus – to be born again. Trinity +13 Year B, 2018

Sermon for Trinity+13
Year B 2018

Joshua 24:1-25
John 6:56-71!

The struggle to believe . . . in Jesus

‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.’ Luke 6:27-30

Well, as too often happens, those who choose the lectionary readings have decided to treat us as infants and cut out words of Scripture that are too challenging for us . . . the particular irony this week is that the two verses are words of Jesus, at the end of a passage about people deserting Jesus because he confronted with them with ‘difficult teaching. who can accept it’ . . . so in a passage about people deserting Jesus because his teaching is too hard to accept, we cut out two verses which are to hard to our ears

We heard Verse 68 – 69. As Jesus sees many of his disciples deserting him he turns to ‘the twelve’ and asks them ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ To which Simon Peter replies “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

So we backed out of the conversation on a high note, but we did not listen for Jesus’ response to Peter’s confident assertion – “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

Put another way, ‘so, you think you’re a follower of Jesus? But are you Judas . . .’ Of course the link to Judas is not unexpected in this regard. Judas is in with the powers that be, that wish to keep the Emperor and his money economy sweet, who want spirituality, but one that can easily be accommodated in their world order. Who don’t want for example to consider that camels go more easily through needle’s eyes than rich people go into heaven – or that if someone takes your goods, you shouldn’t ask for them back . . . or any of the other hard teachings of Jesus.

They want a Jesus-lite, a pocket size Jesus. Certainly not one who is going to turn over all the tables of comfortable existence . . . perhaps that is why the early Jesus movement caught on so rapidly amongst those who had nothing – for a while, it really was Good News to the poor, but has been reduced over the years to spiritual consolation for the wealthy and a drip feed for the poor

Since arriving here seven years ago, my bookshelves have become increasingly disordered – so these last few weeks, I have been reordering them, and coming face to face with a book I didn’t really want to read again, but can’t let go of. It is ‘To believe in Jesus’ by the Carmelite nun Ruth Burrows. You may remember her – she is the one who tells the story of faith as being ascending a mountain with a beautiful vase – our life – which we wish to present to God, but when we get to the top of the mountain we realise we are in the wrong place – he’s not at the end of our Life. To find God we have to let go of our life, of wanting to control it, and descend a steep and perilous path in the mist – we cannot take the vase with us.

Well these nuns can be pretty on the nose with this whole Christian life thing. Burrows book ‘To believe in Jesus’, almost leaves you despairing, for she shows us just how hard it is, to take Jesus at his word. For to take him at his word is to acknowledge who he really is and thus to do what he says, everything.

As I’ve been at pains to point out these past few weeks, the words of Scripture all direct us if we follow their path to the person of Jesus. Joshua – who has the same name – is a manifestation of Christ in the Old Testament – his speech to the Twelve – the twelve tribes is uncannily similar to Jesus conversation with the twelve. They say they will serve God, Joshua tells them they are not up to it. Peter says ‘you have the words of eternal life – Jesus tells the twelve – one of you is a devil.

As the spokes of the wheel find their focus, there is a density to Jesus that is hard to take.

So Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.

Pardon the pun, but this is hard to swallow – ‘unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you??’

Which is why so often we keep our distance. We come up with different versions of Jesus to suit our agendas and our lives. Jesus, the Social Justice Warrior! Jesus the teacher of Wisdom, except where we try and modify his words to allow us to go on as we always did – after all there was a gate called the eye of the needle and heavily packed camels couldn’t get through it, unless their loads were removed. Except there was no such gate. And then there’s all that loving your enemies stuff, and doing good to the people who hate you . . . Well my Jesus understands that I can’t do that . . . We allow Jesus to go to the cross for us, but we keep our distance – won’t follow him. In other words, we don’t believe in Him . . . ‘Our Jesus’, or as a priest once lamented in public ‘my Jesus’ isn’t like the Jesus of the gospels. After all wasn’t it Jesus who said ‘you need to be careful around money – you can use it well, but it might take you over . . .’ well I’ve heard many a sermon trotting out that assertion . . . except he didn’t say that he said ‘you cannot serve God and Mammon’ – to take the words of Jesus as embodied in Joshua ‘Choose today whom you will serve’

Interestingly of course, or perhaps instructively a church that loves money has cut out the rebuke of Jesus to the twelve, amongst whom is Judas, whom like the Judea’s loved money. the money lovers will betray Jesus . . . well this is a difficult teaching, who can accept it?

You see our problem isn’t with the Jesus we have in our heads, its with the Jesus whom we encounter in Scripture, the Real Jesus.

And this is where its helpful to consider love of enemies. Jesus, interestingly never commands us to ‘love everybody’, but to love our neighbour, to love your fellow Christian – the one you know, the one you encounter . . . A member of a church had fallen out with another member -‘I love everybody! was their mantra, but their problem wasn’t some abstract ‘everybody’ – it was this particular friend who had become an enemy . . .

It’s easy to have warm feelings in our heart about everybody, but our faith doesn’t deal in our warm feelings but the reality of the other. It’s to love the person we can see no reason to love, but this is to be confronted with our own inner nature, our incapacity to truly love – to love THIS person. To See Jesus in Reality, not as a nice idea to keep us comfortable. Is there not an incredible powerful parallel between our desire not to love the enemy, and not to take Jesus at his word? Is it not rooted in exactly the same place in our heart, the place where we cling on to our life, and so cannot take hold of the life that is eternal?

Peter, for all his failings does see things. Jesus declares him blessed for his confession of Christ, if in the next moment he calls Peter Satan. Again all the spokes come together – Did I not call you, the Twelve, yet one of you is a devil . . .BUT Peter is still right. ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.’

The words of Jesus are words of eternal Life, for He himself Is eternal Life. Living Water flows from his mouth. To believe in Jesus is a struggle – to say yes to Him and his words will always be hard until his work in us is complete. We believe in him, because we have encountered life in Him – we desire that life – we desire Him, but it is hard – it requires coming to birth

Recently Ben, our son in law discovered what those of us more experiences in these matters have know for a long time, young babies don’t like having garments pulled on over their heads – after all being born is a terrible trauma . . . perhaps this is why the business of being born again is one we flee from – preferring the comfort and warmth of the dark womb, where we can have sweet dreams of reality but not be faced with it . . .

We like Peter stumble and fall – we do watch Jesus go to the cross. But is it for us . . . or ahead of us . . . Finally of course Peter does follow Jesus who has gone ahead of him. There is no avoiding the cross, no standing at a distance. May god in his unlimited grace and mercy give us the grace to give us an unquenchable desire him in all and through all, and above all. To have our eyes opened to Life in Christ – to say whatever befall, where else can I go.

Surely, this struggle is the struggle of birth – of coming to life

As Jesus says, ‘you must be born again’

GOD in the everyday . . .

Sermon for Evensong
12 after Trinity

Exodus 2:23 – 3:10
Hebrews 13:1-15

God in the everyday . . .

So we gather again, for the first time for a few weeks, and in the meantime we’ve missed quite a chunk of Scripture, not least successive readings from the interestingly titled ‘Epistle to the Hebrews’.

I guess that the title may have escaped our attention, but perhaps it throws some light on the deep roots of our faith. As I trust we are well aware, Judaism at the time of Jesus was far from being monolithic. St Paul, you may remember skilfully uses the significant differences between the sect of the Pharisees and that of the Saducees to deflect attention from himself when they both turn up to accuse him of undermining the faith. Perhaps more difficult for us is the constant use by our own St John of the terms ‘The Jews’ throughout his Gospel. Echoes of the C20 and indeed bad blood between Christendom and the Jewish Diaspora from the middle ages might lead us to wonder if it is antisemitic. Yet, John himself is in some sense Jewish. The actual word John uses is Judeans, suggesting it is more subtle than this, and most scholars tend to the opinion that ‘the Jews’ here are the Pharisees, and perhaps some of their close allies. Certainly it is clear, reading John, you have some coalition of powerful groups, engaged with the Roman puppet Herod, who are troubled that the Jesus movement is destabilising the carefully crafted particular relationship between the Romans and those a coalition of those Jewish groups who had emerged from the Babylonian exile some centuries earlier. Holding on to life s they know it, not open to Life that comes fro above

Back to the Hebrews – the word is one which occurs early in the story of Israel, but disappears later on in the history. Are they a particular perhaps persecuted sect within the Judaism of the time of Jesus? Is Jesus himself ‘a Hebrew’? Well these are speculative questions, but one thing is clear, that the epistle to the Hebrews is quite unlike the Pauline letters, and addresses themes of the old worship of God in the tabernacle and first Temple period. Certainly there is a strong critique of the Second Temple and its cult suggested in its pages – and this comes briefly into view in our reading this evening. And of course this is also very much called into question by Jesus himself, who cleanses the Temple in all four gospels. This is not as Modern ears might have it a ‘critique of religion and religiosity’ That is to read it through lenses appropriated from the world around us.
The new language is of a cleansed Temple and another altar of sacrifice So much of Hebrews is concerned with matters which are strange to our ears, not unlike its closest relative – The Revelation of or from Jesus Christ . . . Perhaps it is both (Never forget that these words are the opening line of The Revelation – the world of early Christianity is not one with which most of us are very familiar, and popular modern notions of the faith are in many ways a world away from these deep roots, perhaps to our very significant loss)

Yet, this weeks reading has perhaps a little less of that strangeness, except the mention of angels, a significant feature of the apocalyptic aspects of the early faith – and ‘an altar of sacrifice, from which those who worship in the tabernacle have no authorisation to eat. Much of the rest speaks of a certain homeliness – of simple exhortations the sort of which we imagine as a moral code for a good life, which if we are not careful we confuse with the faith of the Church in Christ Jesus. the sort of thing that has folk saying, ‘well I live a good life and don’t believe in God, so what’s your problem’ (Of course with so many saying this, one might ask, why is the world in such a stew given that everyone claims to live a good life . . .)

This ordinariness seems almost at odds with the rest of the epistle, and even moreso with regards to our reading from Exodus – of Moses at the burning bush . . . yet I would like to suggest that it is the burning bush which alerts us to the extraordinariness of ‘ordinary life’, which awakes us to the presence of angels and indeed speaks to us deeply of another altar at which we might eat.

It is the Revelation of the strange God of the Scriptures, most fully manifested in Jesus Christ which alerts us to living in a world of which we have little cognisance – that the world is not as we had thought. And we would do well not to flee in incomprehension from these strange texts which call us out of our small lives into something infinitely greater in which we are undoubtedly caught up, did we but see, were it revealed to us . . . and that Revelation comes to us not in the midst of the myriad distractions of life, but in time spent away from these things.

Moses has had to flee from Pharaoh. He has ended up in Midian and there found a wife and is looking after the sheep of his father in law, Jethro. He is in the wilderness. Separated from his people, in a foreign land doing . . . well not doing very much at all really. Alert yes to the threat of lions and wolves and the rest, but largely unoccupied.

It is in this context of withdrawal from the world that he has this Revelation of God, much as John many many years later, is exiled to the Island of Patmos where he receives the Revelation of or from Jesus Christ. And this revelation is Essential to our faith. Apart from the encounter with the living God, we do not even begin in the way of Christ. and the place of encounter is always the Empty space, a space not full of our own beings and doings, our own at times infinite sense of self importance.

Of course one doesn’t have to be tending sheep in the desert, or exiled to an island to know such an encounter, but one does need to be at a loose end, unoccupied, not pre-occupied, not distracted by many things.

Moses we might say has attention to spare, and that indeed is a rare rare gift in our day . . . execially and perhaps most tragically for our children, whose anxious parents will not allow them to find themselves at a loose end but endlessly fill their days and provide ‘gadgets’ that they might not cry out ‘I’m bored!!’
Not one teacher of our faith whose teachings have continued to echo down the centuries would find a problem with boredom, or being unoccupied. For it is only when we have attention to spare that we might perchance allow our gaze to wander and notice a tree, or a branch, or a bud, or a lade of grass, and discover it to be ablaze with the glory of God

And so it is wth how we See Jesus Christ. In our day – we see more and more only the surface. One facet of ‘spiritual matters’ I find almost everywhere is the separation of the person of Jesus of Nazareth from the Christ. We look at ‘Jesus’ and see a carpenters son, or even a fine religious teacher, but we do not see with depth, our eyes skim the surface. And so it is not uncommon for people to speak of, on one hand, Jesus, and on the other The Christ, and fail to see the Anointed one – aflame with the Spirit of the Living God. The true Image of God – ablaze in our midst. As Elizabeth Barrett Browning puts it in ‘Aurora Leigh’ – ‘man, the twofold creature, who apprehends the twofold manner, in and outwardly’

to See truly the nature of our ‘ordinary’ lives – we need to See to behold the one who is in all and through all. It is our meditation upon the person of God in jesus Christ which opens our eyes to the truth of our existence. It causes us not to rush away from awkward and difficult texts – rather to see in them a reflection of our own simple ignorance. and indeed it calls us to see the truth of those around us – but it is only the Love of God with all we have and are, made possible through this apprehension of God in the empty spaces which leads us to a true love of neighbour as ourself

A couple of quotes to close – one from CS Lewis

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

And to close – Barrett Browning

But man, the twofold creature, apprehends
The twofold manner, in and outwardly,
And nothing in the world comes single to him,
A mere itself,

—cup, column, or candlestick,
All patterns of what shall be in the Mount;
The whole temporal show related royally,
And built up to eterne significance
Through the open arms of God.

‘There’s nothing great
Nor small’, has said a poet of our day,
Whose voice will ring beyond the curfew of eve
And not be thrown out by the matin’s bell:

And truly, I reiterate, nothing’s small!
No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim;
And (glancing on my own thin, veinèd wrist),
In such a little tremor of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct. Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more from the first similitude.

My we not be caught unaware


The Gracious Invitation – John 6 part 4 – Sermon for Trinity +12 – Year B 2018

Sermon for 12 after Trinity – Year B 2018
Proverbs 9:1-6
John 6:51-58

Gracious hospitality
Where do we live?

Earlier this week we had a curious and telling juxtaposition of readings at Morning Prayer. On the one hand there was a reading from 2 Samuel where David has it in mind to build a house for God, yet through a dream the LORD speaks to Nathan the prophet, telling him, briefly, not to be so presumptuous . . . Against this we read in Acts of the martyrdom of Stephen, and his speech which led to him being stoned to death. In which he recounts this very desire to build a house for God as the culmination of his indictment of God’s people.

He concludes with words inaccessible to David – those of the prophet Isaiah – “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?”

Did not my hand make all these things??

The image that comes to mind is that of a very small child receiving a lego set, and building a house for their parents to live in – but even a toddler would at some level understand that it was insufficient. David’s problem, and to a similar extent ours is – we have lost sight of where we live . . . It is not that God is too vast to live in any house we might build him, it is We who live in his house . . . we are as it were stranger, pilgrims, passing guests . . . yet you would not know. We treat it as if it is ours

If we understood that ‘The Earth is the LORD’s and all they that dwell therein’, would we have brought the house of the LORD, his creation, to the point of destruction. God provides a house for us, and we have trashed it. As we consider the growing climate chaos, with fear and trepidation, one note absent even from Christian discourse is the fear of the LORD – any deep sense that this is God’s house. The skies are my throne, the earth my footstool? What kind of house will You build for Me?? We are perhaps the AirBnB guests from the other place . . .

This failure to see where we are – to live out our lives in the light of this is our failure to Know God – manifested in our failure to Know who Jesus us – to recognise Him. As Isaiah goes on “But this is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word.” To the one who hears and sees me – whose vision is filled with me. This is the heart of the message of repentance – ReOrient your gaze – look to God, for your life is a breath, it is all a gracious gift, and you dwell in his house

And all this comes to a focus in Jesus, and our seeing, or not seeing who he is.

As we have explored a little over the past few weeks, all of scripture is pointing in this direction and towards the person of Jesus. As John reminds us, Jesus invites us to see where He lives – the disciples follow him and ask, were are you staying, and he says, ‘Come and See’ – his first public act is precisely to do with where we live. Destroy this Temple and in three days I will rebuild it . . . they did not understand that he was talking of the Temple of his body . . . the skies are my throne, the earth is my footstool. Life itself flows from Him.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.”

He Is Life! He is the Centre of all things, in Him all things hold together.

So the Words of Scripture like those bicycle wheel spokes point us towards Christ Jesus. We gather hear to hear words which direct the gaze of our hearts, that we might See Him and Love Him. Then we feed on Him in bread and wine.

As the old dialect of my home county has it – in the beginning, there were nobbut God. Nothing.

But then God, out of Love, called into existence that which was not God. The Creation. A place where he would walk in the cool of the day, and share it with all that he had made. The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatsoever moves in the paths of the deep.

And then, in Love he bound Himself to this Creation. In Christ Jesus, through the obedience of Mary, God as it were wove himself into this Creation in Love. In Jesus the human and God share in Life together, and all who believe in Him, all who See Jesus for who he is are invited to share in the Life of God, a life manifested by the banquet Wisdom has spread.

When we come together to worship as those baptised into the Life of Jesus, God feeds us with His Life, the Life of his Son in bread and wine, and we come to live truly in His house.

So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me – God has built a house – the body of HIs Son, the Church, the body which fills all things, which rooted in the Earth yet touches heaven. the home of all the baptised

Yet God condescends – not only does he invite us to live in him, as revealed through the pregnancy of Mary, in great humility he lives in us.

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me – and I in them.

Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’

The Judeans then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ In bread and wine. This is my body, given for you – this is my blood shed for me – come eat and drink. In bread and wine, the divine life of Jesus is woven into the Creation. this is what we call Sacrament – it is a participation of the things of the Creation in the things of the Creator

When by Grace we are born into the World, a gracious invitation is given us, it is True Hospitality. Everything is laid on. The Banquet is ready – a table is laid for guests whom God desires to make his friends. As the old cultures knew, to accept and invitation to eat together was to accept an invitation into the life of someone else.

The word hospitality in Greek actually carries the sense of making friends of strangers. through our blindness we were strangers to God – God in Christ, heals our blindness and sets a table for us, and wet by week we take up the invitation, to sit and eat with Him. To share in the life of our Divine Host

The question as always remains, will we accept the hospitality of the living God and feed on his Life in Jesus – or will we opt for self catering?

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit


‘I have food to eat of which you do not know’ Have we come to know this food?

Sermon notes for the twelfth Sunday after Trinity

John 6:35,41-45

‘I have food to eat of which you do not know’

Do you know this food?

Food is something with which we have become obsessed – we talk about it more than ever before and eat worse than ever before.

Recently I’ve been reading a fascinating book on diet, and why generally they don’t work – because of our micro biomes – that is the trillions of immigrants our body hosts which invade from moments after we are born and take up residence all over us and in our gut especially

The book is full of interesting things, like, did you know that you can take a swab from your armpit, and make cheese form the fungus growing there?

Well I don’t wish anyone to rush out and by yet more antiseptic hand washes etc. (Which seem to do us far far more harm than good . . .) . . . but it’s interesting to note that it is unseen things which have such an impact on us, indeed to a degree controlling what we eat, how we feel, and even perhaps what we think . . .

For what we think is amazingly malleable and open to manipulation of all sorts – so you can take a particular fungus – and culture it, and tell people that the smell is a cheese, and they will respond positively, or tel them that it is sweaty socks and they will not respond so kindly. 🙂 and the truth?? It is both 🙂 the same fungus can make a particular cheese as makes that interesting odour 🙂

(Or perhaps there’s a food snob thing going on here, when we say an expensive cheese smells like sweaty socks . . . )

our sense are fooled by things we don’t see – even our vision

Advert with youth and elderly woman holding a handbag . . . he is running to steal it – we draw back – a large packing case is falling towards her – he is rushing to save her

And of course they didn’t see truthfully the one coming to save them

you’ll remember last week when I spoke of the disciples as Jesus prepared to feed the crowds – of how they could only see the world through the lens of the economics of Pharaoh, or the emperor – only those who carried the denarius, the coins for a day’s labour, which carried the mark of the Emperor, or perhaps, the mark of the Beast? – only those who had this could eat . . . and the disciples could see nothing else

So too the crowds themselves. Jesus tells them they go after him, not because they saw the sign – they only came after him because he filled their stomachs

They say “Is this man not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know’

What are they saying – they only see the man. What is more they only see him in terms of where he has come from, as far as they can see. He has come from Joseph – and we know where Joseph has come from, we know his mother and father . . . interestingly, there is no mention here of Mary, the mother of Jesus . . . but another day

As Jesus says elsewhere – you do not see me, you do not know me, because you do not know my Father. Only the one from God has seen the Father – but those who listen to the Father see who I am

As I have said over the last few weeks – the Scriptures can be thought of as spokes on the wheel of a bicycle – on their own, not seen with respect to the whole, they are unremarkable and can point anywhere. Indeed this is often how we use scriptures – but they form a coherent whole like the spokes of a wheel, when put together and we stand back and we see. they point to Christ Jesus himself. ‘The Scriptures testify about me’ Jesus himself says . . . like the photo of the young man and the elderly woman, it is only when we stand back that we see the saviour

These spokes come to a focus in the gospels, and I would like to suggest, the gospels come to their focus in John. listening to the words of the crowd – “Is this man not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know’ we may well be thinking ‘didn’t we have this reading recently? Yes and no, we listened recently to Mark’s gospel, chapter six, where the people of Nazareth said – he is the carpenters son. His mother and brothers are here – and so seeing purely in human terms they fail to see who he is. So the crowds here in John focus on Jesus known humanity, whilst and do not perceive where he is from – ‘How does he now say, “I have come down from heaven”’ they do not See

The gospels come to a focus here in John, perhaps in these very chapters for Who Jesus is is the key theme of these chapters. Here in Chapter 6 we get everything coming together and it is revealed in the language of the gospel. There are powerful negatives – I am the bread of life – who comes to me will most assuredly will never, will not, will not hunger, they will not, will not thirst – and then – over and over again ‘Truly, Truly I say to you’ Four times within these few verses – Amen, Amen – a Solemn and binding statement. ‘Amen Amen – I say to you, the one who has faith has eternal life. I am the bread of Life”

I wonder if your remember the old J Arthur Rank films – at the beginning someone came out and stuck an enormous Gong – Most assuredly not! Amen, Amen. Boom, Boom Boom – Everything is resonating as we come towards the very truth of lIfe itself – found in Jesus Christ.

Which begs a question – have we found this life in Christ Jesus for ourselves. Here and now – in and amongst us? No one can come to me, Jesus says, unless the father draw him – everyone who listens to the Father and takes instruction from him, comes to me . . . and then Jesus starts to talk of himself as this food . . .

I think that we can know in a sense that we have seen Jesus for who he is – that we have come to know Him, if for example in our reading of the Scriptures we find a deep hunger satisfied – if they lead us into worship of God in Christ. If we can say out of our depths with St Thomas, My Lord and my God.

I recently heard a bishop complain that some of the clergy only read scripture in order to prepare for Sunday – I could hear what he was getting at – if their only focus was to write a sermon – but the riches of Christ are such that if we have come to know an love him, even a single word from his lips feeds us over and over, it is enough.

If we have discovered with Christ Jesus and in him the truth that ‘man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. if we have discovered that deep satiation on reading these Scriptures which attest to Jesus Christ

This is Eternal Life – the Life of God breaking into our life, that our hunger now is for God himself in Christ. Thus we know that we have been drawn by the Father into his life, that we feed on it, in word, and as we shall see next week and the week after, in the Sacrament

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen

Caesar, Food and work – Sermons on John 6 (Part 2)

Sermon notes for Eleventh Sunday after Trinity
Year B 2018

Work, Life, and Food

‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you’ – perhaps amongst the most challenging if not the most challenging words of Jesus . . .

Why? Well because they require us to completely change our economic order

it’s interesting that they come at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, as sermon about Economics – that is how we live together, and then Jesus gets down to ‘the bottom line’ Don’t fret about that stuff everyone else is absorbed in – like what you will eat and what you will wear and what you will drink – for your father in heaven knows you need all these things – rather seek His Kingdom and his righteousness – and these things will come to you.’

Orient your life towards God, and enter His economic order

it is perhaps no surprise that Christian faith so often collides with issues of money – or it should, for money is about the world economic order . . . and it is the order of Pharaoh, or of Caesar, or of the nation state, or big business – it doesn’t really matter when we speak of this – they are all one, in their way of running things, of ordering our economy, our way of living together, which is the way they proscribe for us, in which money and food and work are inextricably linked. And its all directed towards those in power.

[As an aside – this is no clearer than in Matthew and the conversation over taxes – Caesar’s image on the Money – the link between this and ‘the mark of the beast’ in Revelation is clear -without Money, without Caesar you don’t eat, and you eat on his terms]

Well you might think that our gospel today is a world away from all of that – in a sense it is, for the whole of Chapter 6 points us away from all that, to a different economy – one entered on and drawing its life form God in Christ Jesus – but the themes are the same.

As I said last week, Scripture is like a bicycle wheel – all spokes coming together, convening on God, in Jesus Christ. All of scripture is in all of Scripture, but the focus becomes clear in the gospels, where their focus is . . . well, focussed, and most especially in John’s gospel

Some think John ‘other worldly’ a spiritual gospel, but no. It draws together all of the themes of scripture as the spokes converge.

You may remember last week – how we saw the parallels between some old testament stories and what is played out on the shores of Galilee. How Jesus feeding the 5000 on the mountain was the manifestation of that meal of Moses and the elders with God on Mount Sinai

And the event? Well if we remember, John tells us ‘and the Passover of the Jews was near . . . the Passover is near. The Passover, when God set his people apart through the blood of the Passover lamb, and rescued them from the Economics of Pharaoh.

What were those economics? Well oddly enough they had come into being through on elf God’s people. Joseph. In time of plenty he ordered that part of the harvest be put into Pharaoh’s barns. Then in times of famine, Pharaoh graciously sold it back to them, to the extent that in the end, in order to work, they sold him their labour. No longer did the people labour for their own food needs directly, they worked for pharaoh on his projects and pharaoh then would give them money to buy food from him . . . As the French say ‘plus ça change . . .’

If you want to see examples of this in the world today consider those strains of GM wheat etc which are sterile. ‘Hey! come buy our seed! but don’t get any ideas about storing some for next year, because its modified to be sterile in its second year . . . but you can always come and buy some more, at the price we set . . .’

Or Something we have become so used to – 750ml of water . . . $2.50.

The Earth is the Lord’s says the psalmist, but you wouldn’t know it – and so accustomed have we become to this story – that we spiritualise our faith. We dream of another world – after we die. Seek God’s Kingdom – Try and live life here so you get to heaven at the end of it all . . . and if we think John’s gospel is spiritual, and not about the real world, then that merely reinforces that . . .

But you might say. where is Pharaoh, or his incarnation in John 6? John sets him before us as he tells the story – staring us in the face . . . as we heard last week . . . ‘Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.’

As we heard again this week – Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.

As Luke tells us ‘In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea . . .’

Do you want know who was truly in charge in Galilee – why they even named the lake after him, and just a few years earlier, Herod Antipas had built a city in his name . . . Pharaoh Economics, Caesar Economics . . . are in full view here. They fill the imagination of the disciples

‘When Jesus looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, Jesus has one test and one alone – ‘do you see who I am? Do you Know me?? for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip [not knowing who Jesus was] answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’

Philip only knows the order of Pharaoh and Caesar – you work for money, and with money you buy food . . .

So in the centre of Caesar and Pharaoh economics, where ‘popular acclaim has built a city in the name of the one who supplies food, at a price, on the hill above the lake named after his honour – Jesus feeds the crowd . . . for free . . .

As i said, the scriptures are like spokes – directing us to this very point .. . where the word of the prophets come true

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

And so it came to pass – When they found Jesus on the other side of the lake, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. You just thought it was a miracle – you thought to make me your king by force because I fed you – you’ll make anyone king who feeds you – you’ll vote for anyone who will set the economy right – as long as your belly is full . . . you didn’t see that the food was pointing you to ME!!

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.’

What is the food that endures for eternal life?? It is the very life of God himself – given to us in Jesus – for This we are called to labour – make every effort to enter in at the narrow gate, for broad and easy is the way that leads to destruction, to the end of life and many follow it, but hard and narrow is the way that leads to life and few they are that find it.

Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ What are they asking here – ‘How do we get bread??’ Work = Money = Bread

Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’

And it is a work – all of the Sciprutres testify to this – throughout God’s perplexity is expressed thus, after all I have done for you – why do you still live under the old economic order . . .?

God rescued his people from egypt – then for forty years they were applied to learning to believe in Him, to trust him – to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness – and yet as they went into the land of promise they forgot and soon looked around them at all they had and were saying – it is my work that has acquired all this for me . . . and so they were given into the hands of another pharaoh and another and another that they might learn . . .

Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.

Seek after him with all your heart and mind, and all these things will be given you as well – Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life – set you heart on Hgod in Jesus Christ – desire Him in through and above all things and he will satisfy you – but do not seek him because you want a full belly or an easy life – Pharaoh is happy to sell that to one or two so that the rest can imagine that that is the way – no – seek him for himself

What is the world? to believe in the one he has sent

We have oriented our worship towards God – let it not be an empty gesture. Let us desire God in through and above all things and together let us begin to live out of a different economic order where freely sharing all that God has given us is the natural order of things

in the name of the one who has come down from heaven, Jesus the bread of Life